We are confronted daily with failed leadership. It seems that every morning, there’s a revelation of another powerful man who abused his influence and authority. (See my post on this here.) We’ve been let down by politicians and producers, presidents and prime ministers, pastors and priests.
What examples of genuine leadership do we have? Rather than stating “what I’m against,” I’m determined to focus on “what I’m for.” I look to mentors who demonstrate leadership in the positive, not the negative.
Here are my top leadership quotes. They give me focus in an era of floundering leadership. I’ll share five this week, and five next week.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Leadership, by necessity, will be tested in struggle and strife. You never know who you are until refined by crisis. Challenge and controversy strip away all superficiality and reveal truth.
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
Christian leadership is founded on Christ. It goes in the way of Christ, whose road ultimately narrowed to the cross. Christian leadership is a life of humility. You die – for Christ, and for the people you're called to lead. Servant leadership incurs loss, suffering, and sacrifice. In these ways, we die for the sake of those we lead. But our response is not morbid despair. We're on the heels of the Leader who pioneered resurrection.
Esse quam videri. “To be rather than to appear.”
Transparency is required in the arena of leadership. There can be no ambition for personal profit, pride, or popularity. Our being supersedes our doing, for our actions arise from who we are. The leader attends to the heart.
“Never waste a good crisis.”
My father-in-law, the Wisconsin dairy farmer, has another version of this. “You learn absolutely nothing from the second kick of the mule.” Leaders are life-long learners. We learn especially from mistakes and losses. In crisis, the key is not to run from the problem, but name it. Be honest about it, and mature from it.
“Strength is for service, not status.” - Eugene Peterson
In our world, power is exerted for the sake of winning, defeating, and dominating. Status uses strength from the top down, to impose one’s will on others.
By contrast, service is when strength is positioned “below.” Its directional flow is from the bottom up. The leader takes the knee and leverages his or her power for those above.
We regularly see abuses of power. Jesus demonstrates a differentiated style of leadership: self-giving and not self-serving. By becoming powerless, he proved himself the most powerful.
I'll list five more next week. Any you would add?